By the numbers: Arizona Cardinals defense without CB Patrick Peterson
Through six games of the 2019 NFL season, the Arizona Cardinals are 2-3-1.
Not bad after a 3-13 season that took eight games to accomplish the same amount of wins under a previous rookie head coach and quarterback duo.
Defensively, the most glaring difference this season has been the absence of All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson, who is coming off of a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy and will be able to play in the Cardinals’ Week 7 contest against the New York Giants.
After signing six-year veteran cornerback Robert Alford in free agency in February, Arizona looked to have a veteran corps of defensive backs going into the season. But the outlook of the Cardinals’ secondary changed dramatically before the season even started.
Peterson was handed his suspension in May and Alford broke his leg prior to Week 1, which has required rookie cornerback Byron Murphy to have to step up.
But with Peterson now back in the mix, the Cardinals defense — especially the secondary — will undoubtedly improve on its abysmal performance thus far in 2019.
Here’s a look at Arizona’s defense without Peterson through the first six weeks of the season by the numbers:
A defense’s job is to stop the opposing team from scoring. The Cardinals have failed to do that this year.
Arizona has allowed a total of 171 points this season for an average of 28.5 per game. Both of those metrics rank as fourth-worst in the NFL. And with the offense only tallying an average of 22.3 points per game, adding to the win column becomes an increasingly difficult task.
In order to score over four touchdowns per game on the Cardinals this year, opposing teams have to move the ball down the field. And that they have done. Arizona’s six opponents thus far in 2019 have combined for 2,484 total yards (second-worst in the NFL) for an average of 414 yards per game, which ranks as the third-worst in the league. Most of that has to do with the Cardinals’ third-worst pass defense, which is allowing 281.2 yards through the air per game.
And with teams having so much success through the air, opposing quarterbacks are reaping the benefits in terms of quarterback rating. Quarterbacks are averaging a stat line of 25-for-32 (71%) for 281.2 yards, 2.67 touchdowns and no interceptions against the Cardinals this season. Those numbers are good enough to result in a 121.8 passer rating (second-worst in the NFL).
Zero. That’s how many interceptions the Cardinals have through six games this season. They are the only team in the NFL that does not have a pick on the year. And with having only been able to muster three fumbles, Arizona has the third-fewest amount of takeaways in the league.
Perhaps the most lopsided statistic is how opposing teams have been scoring on the Cardinals. The team has allowed 16 touchdown passes this season (most in the NFL), while only allowing two rushing touchdowns, which is remarkably tied with the New England Patriots for the second-fewest in the league. Arizona has allowed a total of 19 touchdowns this season, the fifth-most of any team.
Only one team has blitzed more than Arizona this year. But sending pressure doesn’t always result in sacks. Of the Cardinals’ 83 blitzes, only 18.6% have resulted in quarterback pressures (hurries, knockdowns and sacks). That metric ranks as the eighth-worst in the NFL, but the team has managed to accumulate 14 sacks, which is tied for the 14th-most in the league. And with a young secondary being left shorthanded to defend pass-catchers 35.2% of the time, Peterson’s ability to put wide receivers on an island will certainly aid the Cardinals’ defensive woes this season.